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Coveney Maps the Path Forward for Agri-Food

The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney TD, today launched 'Food Harvest 2020 Milestones for Growth' his view of the journey and milestones which need to be reached to attain the eventual targets set out in the Food Harvest 2020 report. He emphasised his "wholehearted commitment to building on this good start and to making sure that the ambitious smart green growth vision in Food Harvest 2020 is realised".

In presenting FH2020 Milestones for Growth, the report highlighting the progress achieved one year into Food Harvest 2020, Minister Coveney pointed out that 2010 "had been a good one for the sector with an 11% upturn in agri-food exports over the previous year". Following on from the estimated €400 million (13%) growth already shown in the first five months of this year, he was optimistic that this strong growth would continue for the remainder of the year and into the future.

Minister Coveney said that "we are involved in one of the sectors that can realistically lead Ireland's economic recovery. It is a unique opportunity and we need to embrace it and succeed". He was heartened that action had already commenced on 91% of the Food Harvest recommendations. He said "I am impressed with each and every one of the 54 key actions taken in the past year but I would like to pick out 3 of these for 'honorable mention' as these particularly illustrate the level of collaboration and buy-in from industry and all State Agencies that has been so evident over the past year:

  • The excellent progress made on demonstrating our green credentials is illustrated by the collaborative work done by Bord Bia, Teagasc, the UK Carbon Trust and the farming community on developing a beef carbon footprint model and incorporating this into our National Beef and Lamb Quality Assurance Scheme. I believe that this is a first of its kind, and over the next year or so it will be extended by environmental benchmarks on water and biodiversity as well as into other areas of the food chain. This is an important and practical step towards the Brand Ireland objective.  
  • The Food for Health Ireland project shows what can be achieved when we marry industrial know-how (the dairy industry in this case) with expertise from State Agencies and third level institutes. To date this synergetic endeavour has produced 4 functional ingredients from milk and I am optimistic these will be commercialised.
  • We know from working closely with industry that market and industry-focused knowledge and skills are essential to deliver the ambitious smart, green growth targets in the Food Harvest 2020 report. The Leadership for Growth (L4G) Programme, which has been proactively endorsed by captains of the food industry, is improving the leadership and strategic capabilities of Irish CEO and senior management teams.
I firmly believe that the Irish agri-food sector has extraordinary potential for growth and I am personally committed to meeting, and indeed, exceeding the ambitious targets set. In this report I have outlined a roadmap of over 40 actions which I expect stakeholders to deliver over the coming year. To achieve these, I am setting quarterly targets which I will monitor at each of the High level Implementation Committee meetings which I chair. This is the first part of the roadmap I have set out but I have also outlined in Milestones for Success, further interim milestones for 2013 and 2105 which are necessary to achieve 2020 success. I believe that all of us, farmers, fishermen, industry, State Agencies and Government, can tap the potential in the sector and take the industry forward to the next level", concluded the Minister.

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Date Released: 26 July 2011